Thursday, September 15, 2011

New Post, AMET

         On last Friday afternoon the replacement guagua, a white one, was finally ready so picked it up around 5 in the afternoon. The only major fix before I could drive it was to switch the driver’s and passenger’s front seats because the one on the driver’s side could not be adjusted back and it was so far forward that I could not get my foot to the brake. The body of the thing evidently was from a Daihatsu built for Hong Kong or Great Britain with the steering wheel on the right.
         Saturday morning while following a string of cars through the street light at Hipermercado Olé an AMET policeman who had been directing traffic in the intersection waved me over to the side of the road and asked me why I had driven through the red light  and I said that he had waved me through it. He looked over my paperwork, walked back and forth to his motorcycle a couple of times, exchanged a few words with another cop and told me to have a nice day and that I could go.
         Saturday afternoon I drove down Maximo Gomez to pick up Altagracia after work and was pulled over by another cop directing traffic because I did not have my Revista on the windshield. The revista is like a safety inspection sticker in the States although, usually, without any actual inspection. I have seen the renewal stickers for sale in kiosks in front of supermarkets in March when the old ones expire. He did not care that I had bought the car only the day before and had not had time to get a revista and  besides my title had not even been issued yet which you need to apply for a revista he then confiscated my driver’s license and said that I could get it back after paying my fine at the AMET building and he gave me directions on how to get there.
         So after finally learning that I could probably get a revista with my temporary transit title or registration I went to Obras Publicas or the DMV on San Cristobal and just as I was pulling into the gated parking lot a man came up and showed me his ID card wich was hanging on his neck and got in next to me and we drove a few yards down th road. I figured this was the safety road test-- then he started filling out a paper form that was stapled to the sticker and when he showed me the paper I could see that it was about a 10th generation photocopy including the stamp. When I pressed him he admitted that the revista was a counterfeit but would only cost me 1000 pesos and that Obras Publicas had run out of revistas for the month anyway and, after hesitating, I bought the revista from him. After he stuck it to my windshield he told me that if I brought the police back he would say hehad never seen me before. About two minutes after I drove off I realized what an idiot I had been because AMET would surely want to see some kind of receipt  or paperwork before they gave me back my license. I almost turned around and went back to buy a real revista from the real Obras Publicas, but I didn’t. I took a different route home to avoid the Metro construction mess on Gomez and got pulled over AGAIN, this time by a National Police who leaned in my window, glanced cursorily over my paperwork and glanced at my new phony revista, asked me if I had any pistols and then asked for soda money. I had 10 pesos in my shirt pocket, which obviously were not enough but 50 more were. A $2 shakedown.
         When I got home I went online and ordered a replacement license from the Massachusetts DMV-- AMET can keep the one they have. In the meantime I will print out and laminate a new license of my own from a scan I have in my laptop and I will cross the bridge of renewing my fake revista when I get to it.

More Kiki
         Kiki has been arrested again. Evidently, while he was working Customs on the Haitian frontier, his roommate, who unbeknownst to anybody had recently completed a 10 year prison stint for rape, was surprised in the act with a 10 year old Haitian girl on the border by a Dominican police who fired at him but he ran off and the cop then gave the naked girl his shirt to cover up with and then Kiki was found eating dinner in front of the TV at his grandmother’s and was arrested until he tells where the perp might be hiding.
         Altagracia had been missing him mightily of late-- she had never been more than a month without seeing one of her kids before-- but with the news of the incarceration she called Elias Piña to arrange for some food to be brought to the jail and said that since he didn’t do it (and she called more than one source to affirm that he didn’t do it) that they would let him out soon enough and would probably not beat him up too badly.
         Now it has turned out that Kiki is also being held for beating up a Haitian and cooking and eating one of his roosters. Altagracia is still not considering bailing him out, “So if he’s in for a few months maybe he’ll learn,” she said.

I always sort of hoped that the wisdom that comes with age would have some kind of practical application.

There have been several articles in the papers about the AMET situation. Exactly one week after losing my license to a AMET cop the chief of AMET declared no more license confiscations in the streets and that a computer system had been developed to keep track of tickets and fines not paid and so on. But some cops kept on confiscating and they have been, reportedely, punished. The stories about getting one’s license back include tales of lines at the AMET building of more than one day waits and of one having to paw through bags and boxes of confiscated licenses grouped only by by State and country of origin.
         Tomorrow, I suppose, I will reluctantly begin the retrieval process because, also reportedly, any outstanding fine goes on one’s record and ever leaving the country by legal means-- like from an airport for example-- becomes problematical. I am going to figure that they are not going to care that I do not have a legal revista and just going to rty to pay the unjust fine to clear my record, get the license (or not, if that line is long too) and get out.

On the day my ticket would expire and,presumably, become a more serious infraction, I went to AMET to settle up. I got there at about 10:30 and settled into my line. After a little over an hour I got to the window, the cashier glanced at my summons and told me to go wait on that other line after lunch to appear before a judge. I got back early from lunch and was the fifth person to be heard. I explained to the little man seated between a gaggle of clerks that I had bought the minibus on a Friday afternoon and was unfairly ticketed on the next day which was a Saturday when a revista could not be procured. He brusquely asked me if the minibus was new or used and after I answered imported used he pronounced a fine of 40 pesos. I paid after a short wait on the next line and then took my receipt upstairs to retrieve my license. Upstairs was a parking garage and along one side was a line of folding 8 foot long tables covered with steel desk drawers all filled with rubber banded bundles of driver’s licenses. There were thousands of them. A police woman took my receipt and after thoroughly riffling the Maryland bundle found my license in the middle of a pack of about 150 Masachusetts licenses.
         As I was walking away from the AMET building I noticed two street signs. One was a One Way sign pointing to the left and the other was an AMET This Way > sign pointing to the right against the one way traffic <.

Kiki is still in jail.

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